Commercialism Only Adds to Joy of the Holidays

Some excerpts from Onkar Ghate of the Ayn Rand Institute in US News and World Report:

I’m an atheist, and I love Christmas. If you think that’s a contradiction, think again. …

“The best aspect of Christmas,” Ayn Rand once observed, is “that Christmas has been commercialized.” The gift buying “stimulates an enormous outpouring of ingenuity in the creation of products devoted to a single purpose: to give men pleasure. And the street decorations put up by departments stores and other institutions—the Christmas trees, the winking lights, the glittering colors—provide the city with a spectacular display, which only ‘commercial greed’ could afford to give us. One would have to be terribly depressed to resist the wonderful gaiety of that spectacle.”

Before Christians co-opted the holiday in the fourth century … it was a pagan celebration of the winter solstice, of the days beginning to grow longer. The Northern European tradition of bringing evergreens indoors, for instance, was a reminder that life and production were soon to return to the now frozen earth. …

When you genuinely feel good about your own life and when you’re allowed to acknowledge and celebrate that joy, you come to wish the same happiness for others. It is those who despise their own lives who lash out at and make life miserable for the rest of us.

The commercialism of Christmas reinforces our goodwill. When you scour the malls in search of the perfect gift for a loved one and witness the cornucopia of goods and lights and decorations, you can’t help but feel that your fellow human beings are not enemies to be feared or fools to be avoided but fellow travelers and potential allies in the quest for joy. …

But any celebration can be corrupted. It’s not uncommon today to hear people say Christmas is their most stressful period. … Seeking something to blame, they blame the commercialism of the season. But there is no commandment, “Thou shall buy a present for every­one you know.” This is the religious mentality of duty rearing its ugly head again. Do and buy only that which you can truly afford and enjoy; there are myriad ways to celebrate with loved ones without spending a cent.

Read the whole article: Commercialism Only Adds to Joy of the Holidays.

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Filed under gratitude, philosophy & religion

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